Theresa May Is Doomed -- Will Adland Get A People's Vote For Christmas?

It is probably fair to say that most people in adland were watching today's Brexit fiasco unravel with a mixture of horror and "told you so."

Without taking an adland poll it is impossible to say for sure, but I think most of us would agree the creative industries of advertising, marketing, journalism, communications and PR were substantially in favour of remaining in the EU.

I quipped to a MediaPost colleague last night that Theresa May was going to struggle to get approval from her own cabinet, let alone Parliament. And lo, it came to pass. The actual guy who ended up working on the Brexit withdrawal agreement text resigned this morning, saying it was unworkable. The very guy Theresa May sent in to bat for Britain against the EU said that like David Davis, whom he replaced, he couldn't support the final text. 

Crucially, the Northern Ireland Secretary, Shailesh Vara, has resigned. This is crucial because the Northern Ireland border issue represents everything that neither Remainers nor Leavers can accept about the withdrawal agreement. Nothing in it takes back control of anything. It cedes sovereign power to the EU with no chance of Brexit truly happening, unless the EU gives it the green light. 

In short, the PM is trying to sell a deal that could see Northern Ireland held in a "backstop" arrangement of being treated differently than the rest of the UK and kept as a part of the single market and customs union to avoid a hard border with the Republic of Ireland and the EU.

That would be until both the UK and EU agree this backstop arrangement can be lifted. Note that the EU has an equal say in the UK constitutional arrangements here. It could mean the UK goes on to leave the EU and conclude trade deals all around the world, but Northern Ireland is held in the customs union and single market for eternity until the EU allows it to return to the UK.

Remember, Theresa May only has a majority in the House of Commons through a deal with Northern Ireland's DUP. It is inconceivable that these tough-talking politicians would ever consider selling out their own part of the UK. If politics is about "doing the maths," then Theresa May seriously needs to buy an abacus.

In general, the deal keeps the UK in the EU until a trade deal can be arranged, and if one is reached, it is on the proviso that the UK accepts EU laws without having a say on how they are devised. If you're not seeing where the 'taking back control' bit is, don't worry -- it isn't only you.

So if all this sounds like a proverbial dog's dinner, it's because it is. I would put the chance of her getting the agreement through parliament at the end of the month up there with me being able to touch the moon in one leap. At the time of writing there is much talk of a leadership challenge to Theresa May as it is rumoured the letters are starting to be submitted to the influential 1922 Committee. Only 48 are required to set off a no-confidence vote in the PM. The chances of her surviving such a challenge are, again, very small.  

A leader trying to get an unpassable agreement through Parliament that is on the verge of being challenged by her own party has to increase the chances of one of two things -- a general election or a second referendum, and possibly both. 

Adland, I suspect, will be worried about the drop in sterling and EU talent deciding the UK is not the place to be. Above all else, however, I suspect many will have their fingers crossed that Santa delivers a second referendum this Christmas. It may not be all over just yet. 

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